New chapter and reaching around the midpoint of the story. Thanks for the many comments. For those just starting, the chapter index is the place to start.
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Chapter 11: The Will of Allah
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Chapter 11: The Will of Allah
Jack felt a surge of rage bolt through him. He stormed the distance to the wounded terrorist, grabbed him by the collar and slammed him back into the gurney.
“Who the hell are you?” Jack roared.
The bearded man half coughed, half chuckled.
“I am the Will of Allah,” he said, a feeble smile spread across his face. Jack caught an Eastern European, maybe Russian, accent to the man’s speech, but it was remarkably faint. This was not some primitive tribesman; this man was educated and spoke English well.
Jack slammed him back into the gurney again.
“What are you doing here?”
The man’s weak grin did not fade.
“I am doing the will of Allah.”
Jack slammed him into the gurney a second time, though the terrorist seemed only to be enjoying his frustration. There was a sound of movement from behind—Bowman was struggling to his feet.
“Hey—you can’t be roughing him up like that!” the police officer protested. Jack let the terrorist drop back onto the gurney, stepping away for a moment to compose himself.
“Kyle—keep the good Officer in his seat,” Jack said.
Kyle moved in, slinging his rifle and helping Mike wrestle Bowman back into the chair. Bowman was big and strong as an ox, but he was also wounded and woozy, and Kyle was a seasoned martial artist. A little bit of leverage and a strategic placement of a foot were all that was needed to get Bowman seated again.
“Careful, Officer—let my buddy there tend to your wounds. Don’t worry about Mr. Jihadi over there.”
Bowman looked at Jack with frustration.
“Don’t even think about touching my prisoner again.”
“Officer, I’m sorry, but you’re not in charge here. You’re a guest in my home, and you may have just put the lives of my family and friends in grave danger. They are my priority number one—not keeping this piece of trash alive, violating his non-existent rights, or bowing to your wishes. If you can give me a rough idea of how many terrorists may be on the way to my neighborhood, then I won’t need to continue my conversation with the ‘Will of Allah’ over here,” Jack said.
Bowman shook his head.
“It doesn’t matter how many there were—help is inbound. They will be here in minutes. You’re not going to need to go all ninja G.I. Joe on anybody.”
Kyle growled in frustration.
“Just answer the damn question, Mister Officer Sir,”
“Look, I don’t know how many there were, either. What I do know is that they just killed a bunch of my buddies, who were trained law enforcement officers. You’re just a bunch of wannabes playing dress up—what chance do you think you’d have? Really?”
Jack ignored Bowman and turned to Mike.
“Did you see anything?”
Mike looked up from applying burn gel to the side of Bowman’s face.
“Not really—he was the only one that I saw. They were shooting from forest on the side of the Interstate—and I got on scene late. Definitely more than a couple guys, though. And, they definitely had some full-autos with them, too.”
Jack struggled to formulate a good game plan. They’d quite possibly just been given away to a group of enemy guerilla fighters of unknown strength and numbers. They could hunker down—potentially try to set up some kind of ambush or diversion—or they could hit the road for the retreat. It was a life or death kind of decision, the kind that he’d been making since the attacks had begun. And, like usual, he was short on good information on which to base his decision.
He turned his attention back to the injured gunman strapped to the gurney. “Alright then, ‘Will of Allah’ – it looks like it’s down to you and me. How many other fighters are with you?” Jack demanded.
The man chuckled again.
“Who are you that you think I would betray my brothers to you?”
“Me? I am a husband and a father, and you just threatened everything that I love and care for in this world. And that makes me very, very dangerous to you.”
The terrorist considered Jack for a moment.
“Very brave, Mr. American. Very brave. I will tell you this—we are many more than you and your friends. The police man is right—you would die if you tried to face my brothers in battle.”
Jack glared back at Bowman.
“Thanks again for the vote of confidence.”
Jack paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts.
“All right—Bowman, have you got any kind of confirmation on how long backup is going to take to get here? What kind of force can we expect to show up?”
“No—I’m still waiting to hear back. They’ll be here soon, though.”
Kyle laughed wryly.
“When seconds count most, help is only minutes away. I’d wager we’re it for now, Jack.”
Jack realized that time on the clock was wasting away, and he’d probably gathered all of the intel he would be able to get.
“All right, guys. We have an almost certainly superior enemy force potentially coming our way, with an unknown estimated time of arrival. We’ve got an unknown strength law enforcement force inbound, also with an unknown ETA.”
“How do we know that they heard Officer Bowman’s transmission?” Fiona asked.
“We don’t—but there’s a good chance that they did. And we also don’t know if they consider ‘Will of Allah’ over there worth the risk of trying to recover. He could be a peon, he could be their leader—we don’t know,” Jack responded.
“Why don’t we just have Bowman transmit another message, saying they’re moving elsewhere?” Kyle suggested.
“That could help. We can probably still expect company, though.”
“Agree. If I had the manpower and time, I’d still probably send dudes in to check it out,”
“So we need to bug out then, right?” Fiona asked.
“Looks like it. Or at least hide out and see what happens. The enemy force isn’t likely to stick around here.”
Bowman was following the conversation and was not happy.
“So ya’ll are going to beat feet out of here and leave me with the prisoner over there?”
“What’s wrong? I thought backup was on its way?” Kyle snickered.
“Well, I’m messed up pretty bad. If someone were to show up—“
Jack held up a hand.
“We’re not going to leave you here with him.”
Mike cleared his throat.
“The prisoner is stable for now, but he needs serious medical attention within the next few hours if he’s going to survive. We can’t take him if we’re going to evacuate. And, Officer Bowman, you need some help, too—I’ve done what I can, but you’re going to need surgery, for both your shoulder wound and the burns.”
“All right—how about this? We shove Mr. Jihadi back into the ambulance and you drive him and yourself to the nearest hospital?” Kyle offered.
Jack nodded in agreement.
“We can’t have the ambulance sitting in front of our place anyways. You think you can drive, Bowman?”
“Ya, I can drive fine. Is he coming with me?” Bowman said, pointing to Mike with a shaky finger.
Mike looked to Jack for support, unsure of how to answer.
“No. He’s staying here to help protect his family and tend to his injured wife,” Jack said firmly. He could see Mike relax visibly.
“If you go right to the hospital, you’ll be fine,” Mike added, seeking to reassure Officer Bowman.
“All right then. Let’s get this show on the road.”
Jack let out a sigh, glad to have that portion of their problem at least addressed. He turned to the others to get the rest of the plan moving.
“Fiona, you go get everybody in the house ready to move – shoes on, grab bags and load up in the vehicles. Kyle, go tell Amy and Tex the plan—I don’t want to broadcast it over the walkies on the off-chance the terrorists are listening in.”
“You think a couple of us should hang around here to keep an eye on the house and all of the supplies? Keep in touch with the rest of the group and let ‘em know when the coast is clear?” Kyle added.
Jack considered Kyle’s suggestion and agreed with it. If the guerilla fighters showed up at their place, it would likely be for a quick search. When they didn’t find their compatriot at the Rourke home, it was doubtful they would hang out long term. Take some supplies, yes. But kick off their shoes and call the place home? Unlikely.
“Let’s do that. You and me. We’ll hide in the back woods,” Jack said.
“You got it, bud.”
“All right then—let’s get moving.”
The group sprang into action. Mike and Jack wheeled the gurney out of the garage, back to the ambulance. The wounded terrorist seemed to be mildly amused by the events.
“Funny, it seemed like we just arrived here. Well, thank you for your hospitality, Mr. American. I will not forget it. Please pass along my thanks to your wi—“
A punch to the man’s bearded jaw interrupted his farewell. They wheeled the gurney into the back of the ambulance and closed the doors.
Bowman was on his radio again, calling in an update—that the suspect’s condition had turned critical and he could no longer wait for support to head to the hospital. The dispatcher asked for his planned route of travel, but this time, Bowman thought better of it and left the question unanswered.
“Look, I’m sorry I brought this trouble to your home, but I’m sure everything will be fine. You guys have helped me out, big time,” he said, extending a big hand for a handshake. Jack took it and shook quickly.
“Make it worthwhile—get that scumbag into custody and get him talking about what is going on,” Jack said.
Bowman hauled himself into the ambulance, pausing to adjust the seat to fit his large frame. He still looked awful, but at least now his wounds were bandaged. He broke a smile, though it awkward and painful looking with his burnt, bandaged and battered face.
“I’ll see you fellas around.”
The ambulance started up and Bowman accelerated away. Tex had already moved the spike strips out of the way. The ambulance passed, pausing at the entrance and then slowly easing into right hand turn. Something happened though, and instead of gently turning, it suddenly, violently began to accelerate.
A split second later, Jack heard it—the crack of a rifle, the sound delayed slightly by distance. The ambulance sped out of control across the road, over the shoulder and smashed head-on into a tree on the far side.
“Shooter!” Tex called over the radio, running from his exposed position to a place of cover.
Jack keyed his radio.
“Sniper! Everybody take cover. Kyle, Tex, Amy, sound off!”
All three radioed in quickly—they were ok.
“Anyone have eyes on that shooter?”
A trio of negatives responded.
“The shot came from the north, along the road it looks like. I’m going to try to move into position to check it out,” Kyle said.
“Hold on that,” Jack said. They had the radios, but they couldn’t be sure if the enemy was monitoring their communications.
The terrorist fighters were here and Bowman had just called off any law enforcement assistance they may have had coming their way. The sniper had clear line of sight on the neighborhood’s sole exit. Bowman was likely dead in the ambulance, and the enemy would soon be trying to move in on the ambulance to recover their injured comrade. Things did not look good.